Draft DHS memo highlights retaliation against states not releasing driver records

beSpacific 2020-02-11

A memo obtained by BuzzFeed News outlines options to put leverage on states that, like New York, deny federal immigration officials access to state driver records: “The Trump administration drafted a slew of plans to consider not only circumventing state laws limiting the Department of Homeland Security’s access to driver records, but to retaliate against states that are refusing to provide the information they seek, according to government documents obtained by BuzzFeed News. According to a DHS memo, the administration considered using “friendly” states to discreetly collect information for federal immigration authorities that would otherwise be inaccessible by law. The plans also include retaliation measures against states that limit access to records, such as closing down DHS offices there, refusing to accept their state identification, cutting TSA PreCheck services, and potentially subpoenaing for drivers’ licenses provided to undocumented immigrants. The signed memo — written by James McCament, an influential agency figure and acting head of the DHS policy office, on Jan. 27 to acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf — offers a view into the agency’s secretive considerations to obtain the information it wants and, in particular, to punish New York for recently cutting off DHS access to driver records. New York also granted the ability for those without lawful immigration status to obtain a drivers license.